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Antonio Conte says his Chelsea players must play for the club, not him, ahead of FA Cup semi-final

Antonio Conte says his players no longer need to play for him
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte (Getty)

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has told his players to show their professionalism over the last few weeks of the season amid speculation he will soon be departing.

The Blues came back from 2-0 down to beat Southampton at the weekend.

It was a fine response from an Olivier Giroud inspired Chelsea but for much of the match the concerns that have dogged the team this year were on show.

Their victory on the road was their first for nearly three months and just their second of 2018.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Southampton vs Chelsea - St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, Britain - April 14, 2018 Chelsea's Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring their third goal REUTERS/Ian Walton EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.
Olivier Giroud scored twice after coming off the bench (Reuters)

The difficult spell has only heightened speculation about the future of Conte, with many expecting the Italian to leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.

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Amid that backdrop, Conte has told his players they must play for the club, rather than for him, over the next few weeks.

‘The players must play like this [in the second half against Southampton] in every game, not for me, but for the club,’ said Conte.

‘They must have great respect for the fans. They have to play for the club, for our fans, and to show great character like they did in this game. This is the best possible way for a player to show they are a fantastic professional.’

Antonio Conte says his players no longer need to play for him
Conte looks almost certain to leave this summer (Getty)

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Chelsea’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League are virtually over, with fourth-place Tottenham seven points ahead with five games to play. But the Blues remain in contention to win the FA Cup with a semi-final against Southampton on Sunday.

Conte added: ‘I was a player, and the players must play every game, and not for me, but for the club, and for the fans. They must have great respect for this badge, they don’t have to play for the coach.’

Chelsea 2017/18 Fixtures

Burnley (A) – Thurs April 19
Southampton (FA Cup) (N) – Sun April 22
Swansea City (A) – Sat April 28
Liverpool (H) – Sun May 6
Huddersfield Town (H) – Wed April 9
Newcastle (A) – Sun May 13

MORE: Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger admits he was ‘probably’ dropped for Antonio Conte comments

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